American Express OPEN Forum – How to Pick a Name for Your Business

Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding, a name development firm, recommends creating a “pivot point,” a quality or core attribute that everything in the company revolves around, such as speed, price, leadership, or innovation. “From there, you can use any number of naming strategies to convey this central theme,” Davis says. “You can use metaphors, (Jaguar, Amazon, Monster), or positive connotation blends (OnStar, TruGreen, Bright House), or descriptive hybrids (CarMax, JetBlue, LendingTree,) or key attributes (Sir Speedy, Priceline, Service Masters).” Pick a flexible name. A successful candidate for a business’ name is not finite, but malleable enough that it can still stand as the business grows and changes. Davis says Midas is a great example of a flexible business name, because using the name of a mythical Greek king with the golden touch positioned the company based on quality service, not on mufflers specifically. This then allowed the company to transition to other automotive repair services without expensive rebranding. “What you do is typically not as important as how you do it,” Davis says. “And your main products and services are likely to change and evolve.”

Phil Davis

With over twenty-five years of company naming and branding expertise, Tungsten founder Phil Davis is a marketing and advertising veteran, having personally named over 250 companies, products and services worldwide. As a sought-after naming expert, Phil has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, and Newsday.